We need more London

So let's build it.

The Economist's Ryan Avent has a great turn of phrase when discussing London's sky-high house prices, and the supply constraint which has caused them:

The world craves London and is willing to pay vast amounts of money for a piece of it. And there are few logistical limits to making more London: a process that would generate huge flows of income and employment for Britons… One could free building rules dramatically (lowering the shadow tax rate) and raise actual property taxes to help fund new infrastructure, and still have everyone come out ahead.

Or almost everyone, I should say. Property owners would not. And that's the reason there is a problem in the first place. London property owners, as a class, are effectively an incredibly successful rent-seeking operation greedily sucking up the economic surplus generated by the city's economy.

London is a limited commodity. Not everyone can live there, it's true. But it's not actually as limited as it seems. We could build a lot more London than we do. Avent, with the incision of an outsider turning his eye to matters bogged down in local politics, offers some pretty good reasons to do so, and some responses to the most common reasons against. Worth a read.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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The Deep Dive podcast: Mandates and Manifestos

The New Statesman's Deep Dive podcast.

Ian Leslie and Stewart Wood return for another episode of the Deep Dive. This time they're plunging into the murky world of election promises with Catherine Haddon, resident historian at the Institute of Government. Together they explore what an electoral mandate means, what a manifesto is for, and why we can't sue the government when they fail to keep their promises.

Plus: Rant or Rave? Find out which podcasts have had our hosts on tenterhooks.

Listen to this episode of The Deep Dive now:

 

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